Whatever your struggle or temptation, the way to move forward is to “apply the gospel to your heart and then live in the power of the Holy Spirit” (from Jonathan Dodson, Gospel-Centered Discipleship). Consider this chart by Dr. Scott Lothery, the Executive Pastor at The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in Chicago.
In it he presents the 13 virtues of Christ in contrast to the 13 ways we all fall miserably short of His glory. For example, Jesus is love while we are callous, hardened and insensitive to the needs of others. The result of this sin is that we are alienated both from God and from one another.
Doesn’t this exactly describe the horrific shooting at the Texas church yesterday? Instead of exercising other-centered love like Jesus, this disturbed, hard-hearted young man took the lives of 26 people and injured many others.
But notice how the gospel speaks even to this terrible situation. Due to his sinful and callous heart, this young man experienced the consequences of his sin – alienation from people (including one armed resident who was courageous enough to fight him and chase him off) and ultimately from God. He placed himself under the justice of God and is now beginning to face eternal punishment for his immorality, forever enduring God’s wrath. God’s justice and wrath are an expression of His goodness in contrast to human immorality which results in corruption – darkened thinking that leads to twisted and violent behaviors.
For any who might now feel discouraged (pessimistic in the chart), lift your eyes to consider the hopefulness of Jesus Christ. Though we deserve physical death, Jesus endured death on our behalf and conquered it through his resurrection. And so our response of faith is to share this good news, spreading the hope of Jesus to a world increasingly filled with darkness, evil and despair.
What are you struggling with today? What symptoms are you experiencing? Shift your focus from yourself to Jesus and meditate on His glorious perfections. Let that move you to confess how far you fall short of His glory, repenting of your sin and thereby seeing more clearly how the Gospel applies to you – directly to your situation right now. Then exercise intentional faith, responding with joy to what Jesus has done for you despite how utterly undeserving you are of that grace.
Apply the Gospel to your heart!